Sunday, June 29, 2014

Camp Winnataska...AGAIN!

After last year's wonderful experience at Camp Winnataska, Bennett definitely wanted to return, but for a week this time!  She had several of her friends from school going during the all girl's week, so we decided to send her that week too.  I was shocked to read that they put all five of the SCE incoming second graders in the same cabin though.  However, it worked out great!

We all drove out to camp to drop her off, including my mother who was in town.  Bennett quickly got acclimated, and was then anxious for us to leave.  Since it was about 100 degrees...we weren't complaining about getting back in our air conditioned car either.  I left her a note, along with a journal under her pillow, bought a few items at the canteen
for other days, and we hit the road.
Harper, B, Madeleine Anne, Tate, Caroline
Throughout the week we checked their website for photos of her, and by the looks of them....she had a great time!
Harper and Bennett

"wacky tacky" night

"western night"

When we picked her up 6 days later, she was still all smiles.  Though Bennett admitted to missing us some, she claimed she never cried or got homesick.  She thoroughly enjoyed her "mail" she received each day from all of the family members, and she saved every single letter!  We are so thrilled that she is making these memories at Camp Winnataska, and hope that she returns again next year.
Greeting her brothers
I missed my baby girl!
Bennett and Tate
Sadly, daddy was flying back into town later in the day and couldn't make the pick up.  However, we all enjoyed the stories we heard later that day of her shooting bows and arrows, horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, singing and doing arts and crafts.  She had a ball!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Peoria Girls Reunion

Selfie with Peoria besties
As I get older, I realize how much more I treasure my girlfriends.  With free time being somewhat of a commodity, I have become quite picky about who I choose to hang out with when I am not with my family.  I have made some wonderful friends over the past ten years in Birmingham, but nothing can replace those old friendships I made in college, and during my 20s.  I love those girls!

So every year or two, Chelsea, Betsy and I try to plan a get together.  Since Chelsea's recent move back to the U.S. last year, we haven't gotten together - so it was overdue!  Betsy and I also had not met her last two children, so we planned a getaway to Pittsburgh to visit her family.  Chelsea and Dayven cooked us dinner the first night, which was the perfect way to get to know her kids, and catch up.  That night we stayed up way too late talking....just like we did in our 20s.

The next morning, we ate breakfast and went into Pittsburgh.  Chelsea thought it would be fun to rent bikes and bike on the wonderful trail system they have along the river.
We biked all morning, had lunch at a little place overlooking the river, and biked back.  It was a beautiful day, and the perfect way to spend several hours.
Downtown Pittsburgh
That night we drove to a neighboring town and had a delicious Italian dinner.  We first enjoyed a couple of cocktails at the bar, and then ate dinner out on their patio.  We split several items, which allowed us the opportunity to sample more than we could had we had our own dish.
Amaro Smash
Dinner on the patio
friends forever
Wednesday morning Betsy and I slept in some (I guess those Amaro Smash cocktails got to us). Once we finally got moving, we had a couple of hours to burn, so we hit TJ Maxx.  We hung out with the kids that afternoon, before getting ready for dinner.  That evening, we rode the train into Pittsburgh, where we enjoyed another fun night together.  We started off our night, having a drink at a rooftop bar, and then walked to a trendy little restaurant where we split several items and drank more cocktails.  We talked for several hours, and had a great time together!

Sadly, Thursday was our final day.  After packing our items and getting Wyatt off to summer camp, we drove to a section of Pittsburgh that had a Lululemon store, and some other cute little stores.  We did some shopping and grabbed lunch with Hadley and Tate before Chelsea dropped us off at the airport.  Though we only spent several days was awesome.  We all got to share, vent and enjoy our time together.  So until next time....

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Barbarian Challenge

Before the Race!
The day after I gave birth to Walker, I was surfing the internet and came across an adventure race that sounded appealing.  I was bound and determined to lose the pregnancy weight and get back into shape quickly, so this gave me something to work towards.  Knowing how much more fun it would be to have a team, I discussed my intentions with my friend and workout buddy, Lauren Tanner.  By that evening, we were signed up as a team of four: "Mudders and Fathers."  I can't say that our husbands were thrilled about it, but we all had 6 months to get ready, so it wasn't that scary.

As soon as I was released by my doctor, I began working out and jumping back into my normal routine of spinning, doing bootcamp, running and lifting some.  I felt great, and ready to conquer the Barbarian Challenge until I learned about some of the challenges the week before the race.  This race was the Warrior Dash (which I did before I got pregnant with Walker) on steroids.  It was a 5.8 mile course through the Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama. 

The yellow things are electrodes, see how many there are?
The terrain was super tough, and coupled with typical Alabama summer was hard!  The hills were atrocious and the very first challenge was crawling through stinky mud, while trying to dodge electric shock cords that hung down.  It was designed in such a fashion where it was impossible to completely miss them, but fortunately my bootie took the brunt of it.

looks easier than it was, especially when you have blisters
Some of the other challenges were crawling over wrecked cars (where there was broken glass and protruding metal), more mud crawling, but under barbed wire, running up and down VERY steep hills, pulling yourself up a 20 foot rope (or doing 50 push-ups if you couldn't lift your own body weight), and the last challenge was the toughest for me...climbing up a piece of flat wood that was on an angle and rested on a bus.  They had three ropes that hung down about a third of the way down, but all of the folks had to wait their turn, and then get a running start to make it up the other 2/3s of the way up the wall.  I tried seven times, and ultimately never made it (I was the only one of our team, which was a huge bummer).

I would be remiss to not mention all of the water on the course.  But for me, it was a welcomed challenge because it gave me the opportunity to cool off and wash off the mud.  When it was all said and done, it took us about 2 hrs to complete.  This time included all of the waiting we did at the various challenges.  Shockingly there were 1200 people that registered and PAID to do this challenge with us.  Though we were in the fourth heat (a group took off every 30 minutes), we still caught up and passed people who began before us, so we all felt good about that.

It is hard to say that we had fun, but it was certainly an accomplishment for all of us.  Though I can't say for sure that we would do this race again (the electrodes were a deal breaker for the Tanners), I do think I convinced Lauren to do another adventure race sometime in the next year.  One thing I learned though...wear gloves!  Though they wouldn't have prevented all of my injuries (we all had road rash, blisters and I got poison ivy), it would have made several of the challenges much easier!
Mudders and Fathers, aka Rainbow Bright

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Let's Kick Off the Summer of 2014!

My birthday girl!
On Bennett's 7th birthday, we packed up our car like Sanford and Son (literally had an overhead bag that was stuffed and a hitch that was loaded...not to mention we couldn't see out of the windows), picked up Sara and drove to the beach!  There is nothing better than kicking off our summer with a beach trip!  Everyone traveled wonderfully (the kids watched the movie "Frozen" twice)!  We arrived at lunchtime, and drove straight to Seagrove Market for a delicious lunch.  There is nothing better than kicking off a week at the beach with a great seafood sandwich.

Daddy's little girl

Once we finished, we quickly drove to our house so we could get unpacked and settled.  That part didn't take long, and the kids were ready to hit the pool, so Sara took them swimming while Steve and I hit the liquor and grocery stores for the week.  Once we got back, we met up with the kids at the beach for a few hours.  That night the Jarmons came over for dinner and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the beach!

Sunset with my honey
The next day, we all rode our bikes to the donut truck (the way we always start our first morning at the beach).  Then the kids played in the sprinklers at Alys Beach for a bit before we came back and made our way to the beach.  Since we have to take so much to the beach, we really like to make the most of it, and stay all day long. 

Having Sara helped immensely, as she was great about taking the big kids to the pool every so often for a break.  Walker was just as easy this trip as he was for spring break.  He lounged in our arms, and napped and played in his portable crib.  We thought he might tire of the beach, but he never did.

happy as a always

underwater camera
Saturday night, we hosted the Passarellas and Tanners over for dinner.  The kids all played, and we ate and chatted.  Since we all had sitters with us, it was a very relaxing evening.  Of course, all of the kids gravitated to "Say Say" and hung on her all week long!

The rest of the week, we did more of the riding, hanging on the beach with the Tanners, Passarellas, and other Homewood friends, swimming in the pool, and enjoying the occasional meal out.

Dinner at The Pearl, Rosemary Beach
Since we had so much fun last year, Steve and I decided to organize another bonfire with our friends.  We invited a lot of our Homewood friends, and had a great group!  All of the kids played together, enjoyed the s'mores, and tried their hand at crabbing, while the adults hung out.  It was a gorgeous night, and everyone had a ball again!
some of the girls at bonfire

family shot
Pres and his buddies
All of the mamas
kids enjoying the morning
The weather was beautiful all week, except for one afternoon in the middle of the week.  Of course, we used that as our day to dine at Dusty's with friends.  Since we had some other friends staying in Panama City Beach, they met us there for a late lunch.  By the time we finished, the rain had left, so we went to the beach for sunset.
girls at Dusty's
digging crew on the last day at the beach
finished product several hours later, a 20 ft oval!
It really was another wonderful trip to the beach, and we both felt it had a lot to do with Sara accompanying us.  She was a tremendous help to us, and the kids so enjoyed having her there.  I am so glad that it worked out, because now they have these memories for the rest of their life, and they are closer to her because of them. 
The day before we left